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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Is Information Ethics Culturally Relative?

Is Information Ethics Culturally Relative?
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Author(s): Philip Brey (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 14
Source title: Social Implications of Data Mining and Information Privacy: Interdisciplinary Frameworks and Solutions
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Ephrem Eyob (Virginia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-196-4.ch001


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In this chapter, I examine whether information ethics is culturally relative. If it is, different approaches to information ethics are required in different cultures and societies. This would have major implications for the current, predominantly Western approach to information ethics. If it is not, there must be concepts and principles of information ethics that have universal validity. What would they be? I will begin the chapter by an examination of cultural differences in ethical attitudes towards privacy, freedom of information, and intellectual property rights in Western and nonwestern cultures. I then analyze the normative implications of these findings for doing information ethics in a cross-cultural context. I will argue for a position between moral absolutism and relativism that is based on intercultural understanding and mutual criticism. Such a position could be helpful in overcoming differences and misunderstandings between cultures in their approach to information and information technologies.

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